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Drifters Are Among Us, Roger Outhouse
On September 26th 2014 four optimistic souls struck out from the Centreville, Digby County, wharf in search of a marine drifter. This type of drifter is a device constructed to float on the surface with underwater sails which carry it by ocean currents rather than the wind.
This one was the creation of the New Hampshire Science Teachers Association in New England. It was launched it in early July, 2014. Equipped with a transmitter, a drifter sends signals to satellites which then track the entire journey.
Over a number of years there have been hundreds of launches throughout the Gulf of Maine. In recent years the Gulf of Maine Institute (GOMI) youth teams along with other groups have become involved in construction and monitoring a number of drifters around the Gulf. NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) is overseeing the data collected and this continually adds to the knowledge of our marine waters and currents throughout the eastern seaboard from New England to the Bay of Fundy and even to the Atlantic Ocean off of Barrington, Nova Scotia. They can be programmed to test for a number of features including currents, temperatures, salinity, etc. Currently this information is being used to understand and in some instances help marine wildlife. The transmitter works continuously for months under the toughest conditions our ocean throws at it and never quits till the battery runs out or it is dashed to pieces on the shores like this one.
This transmitter was barely visible as it was separated from its sails which had vanished. Close by, buried under a pile of rockweed were the remnants of its aluminum structure and float. Not only did we have an opportunity to watch this dramatic voyage unfold on the internet map but we were more excited to discover its resting place and bring its story to an end. Hopefully the transmitter will still be strong enough to be transplanted to a new drifter and another voyage to sea in its future.
To view the trail this drifter took, its track is posted at http://www.nefsc.noaa.gov/drifter/drift_nhsta_2014_1.html.
Save Cartons Save Money Recycling Project
With the recent attention on carbon emissions and carbon footprint gaining public attention, and Lowell youth looking for new ways to go green, the YWCA of Lowell’s Green Team and the City of Lowell Solid Waste and Recycling Office piloted the Save Cartons Save Money Recycling Project to divert milk and juice cartons created by schools from the waste stream. This pilot project was conceived by a group of YWCA Youth Conservation Ambassadors when they attended the Gulf of Maine Institutes (GOMI) summer conference to learn more about working locally on environmental projects to bring and global change. The carton recycling project was piloted this summer with nine schools and summer program sites that served milk and juice cartons during their lunches and snacks, with the goal of helping these sites recycle these cartons, reduce their waste disposal, and reduce their carbon footprint.
Milk and juice cartons are made from an especially high grade paper which can be made into new products if they are recycled. With the City’s single stream recycling, it makes it convenient and worthwhile to save them. Cartons are of prime importance because they are used daily on a large scale in almost all schools across the city. A student may use as many as 180 cartons or more per school year. That many cartons end up in landfills and incinerators. With the Save Cartons Save Money Recycling Project, about 2.5 million cartons in Lowell alone could be diverted from trash and repurposed each year, benefiting the schools by saving the money, engaging students in their own community recycling, and also motivating them to be environmentally responsible in a project with tangible results. The environmental impact of the Save Cartons Save Money Recycling pilot project was astonishing. More than 25,000 cartons were recycled over a period of five weeks: equivalent to nearly 1,550 pounds of cartons, while saving the large paper pulp tree. Moreover, by recycling these cartons, over 280 Kilowatts of energy were saved. Thanks to the efforts of our pilot sites: te Stoklosa Summer School and the Refugee Summer Program, the Pyne Arts and Lowell High SPED, Lowell High Summer School, Lowell Police Academy, North Canal Apartments, Lowell Community Health Center Teen Block, Greater Lowell Technical High School, and the YWCA of Lowell City Camp, .40 metric tons of carbon dioxide emission were avoided and about 1,900 gallons of water were also saved.
The process of cartons recycling is simple: drink the beverage, empty the remainder of the content, and putting the empty cartons in the recycling bins that are provided by the Save Cartons Save Money Recycling Project. The project is easy and affordable for all schools and site. The Carton Council, YWCA of Lowell and Lowell Solid Waste and Recycling Office (SW&R) provide support for this project at no cost to the schools. This support include buckets to empty all the cartons before recycling, barrels for carton collection, signs and project information, an carton pick-up through the Lowell Solid Waste Collection System. The YWCA and SW&R representatives help plan, monitor, and troubleshoot any problem. The YWCA helps to organize a Green Team to help manage and implement the project which reduce custodians’ work.
Schools that are interested in becoming part of the Save Cartons Save Money Recycling Project should contact Emmanuel Appiah from the YWCA at 978 458 9983 or by email [email protected] or Gunther Wellenstein at the Solid Waste Recycling office at 978 674 4309 or by email [email protected] Environmental projects like this one makes Lowell “alive, unique,inspiring ” and a safe city for all.
Here is something that GOMI participants might be interested in. Don’t go and put yourself in danger to get a good picture – but just in case you see something interesting around this high tide.
Gulf of Maine King Tides Photo Contest Planned for October 9, 2014
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Along the 7,500-mile Gulf of Maine shoreline, an extreme high tide on October 9, 2014 will illustrate what may become-with sea-level rise-the new tidal norm. Participants in the first-ever Gulf of Maine King Tides Photo Contest can document how the astronomical high tide that day affects wharves, causeways, marshes, beaches and other coastal settings. Interested citizens are encouraged to join the contest-submitting images from their cameras or smart phones.
Organizations from three states and two Canadian provinces are collaboratively planning the Gulf contest-inviting images of coastal settings from Cape Cod Bay to Cape Sable in Nova Scotia. Sea levels within the Gulf of Maine have increased more than half a foot (20 cm.) over the past century, and scientists anticipate an additional rise by 2100 of at least 2 feet (61 cm.), and possibly more than 3 ft (91 cm.).
Here is a neat event. A drifter deployed in New England is now approaching Nova Scotia’s Digby Neck. There is a good chance it will not actually land there but continue up the Bay of Fundy. We did retrieve one drifter last year so will keep watch on this one and see what happens.
To see more drifters visit: http://www.nefsc.noaa.gov/drifter
The Digby Neck/Islands team once again came though to help in a big collaborative effort on Brier Island. Sounds like a lot of work got done and all had a great time.
Urban Ecology in Lowell – by Taylor Barnaby
My 2014 GOMI Summer Conference week was spent mainly in the city of Lowell, Mass., USA visiting locations and participating in the online Land Science Internship Simulation. Along with our teacher chaperones our team also had Sally Farrow to help guide us through our week. Being both passionate about her community and the environmental state it is in she was also very informative; the week would not have gone so smoothly without her.
Once we got our acceptance letters into the internship program it was time to get to work. The first few days took a little getting used to but by the end of the week we were professionals at submitting notebooks and meeting with stakeholders. The internship lasted 3 days and within that time we had met with environmental groups of Lowell, listened to their concerns, and completed a presentation along with our own map design of Lowell with everyone’s needs being met.
Even though the internship was all online we were able to take many fieldtrips to get a better understanding of Lowell. The first one was located right in front of Middlesex Community College at the new trail, here is where we learned how important it is to keep everyone’s concerns in mind, and also seeing how much improvement can be made in undeveloped land. Later that day we got to visit Congresswoman Nikki Tsongas’s office, where some very interesting conversations on the environmental impact people are having in their communities. The last day we spent in Lowell we got to go to the Lowell-Dracut-Tyngsboro State Forest to see more of the wildlife of Lowell and to also get a better understanding of some of the concerns that were presented from the stakeholders.
The week turned out to be a very educational and fun experience, and I feel like I can speak for everyone on the Urban Ecology theme team by saying that this was the best internship we will ever have.
By Tommy Furlong
In the last week I have participated in several successful pepperweed pulls under the leadership of Chris Orlando and Ryan Furlong. So far we’ve pulled at the Newburyport Boat Basin (which has decreased in pepperweed significantly over the previous years), behind the Mersen Industrial building, around the Audubon, and at different waterfront homes. Earlier this month the GOMI team held the annual week-long summer conference which gave us time to prepare and schedule our different pulls. Since the end of this conference we have stepped up our game and have started having two pulls a week on Saturday and Tuesday.
A little background on pepperweed: it’s an invasive species that has been taking over the marshes of the North Shore and is terrorizing the ecosystems around us. This is the project that started Newburyport GOMI and has stayed the heart and soul of the team. The hard work of the current team, and also previous GOMI members, has proved to be a major factor in the rapid decline of the pepperweed population. However, this wouldn’t be true if it weren’t for the manual hours of pulling and spraying the plant. The eradication of this plant is essential to keeping our marshes healthy, and the Newburyport GOMI team has been doing everything it can to help. Even if it’s only one bag at a time, eradicating pepperweed is an important cause worthy of devoting countless hours to.
The Gulf of Maine Council on the Marine Environment is celebrating its 25th Anniversary with a geocache tour of the Gulf of Maine Watershed.
The Gulf of Maine Council GeoTour was created to encourage people to get out, learn about and experience the beauty and value of the Gulf of Maine for themselves.
The GeoTour is like a scavenger hunt, but instead of visiting locations to collect objects, participants will be finding answers to site specific questions and collecting points. The treasure, a limited edition Gulf of Maine Council 25th Anniversary Geocoin, is available to participants who collect enough points and send in their GeoTour Passport.